By Humphrey Carter
PALMA

IT appears that July bucked all the trends in the Balearic tourist industry and could turn what started off as another poor summer season on its head.
Over the past week we have seen that the Balearics enjoyed the sharpest increase in the number of foreign visitors for a decade, in particular from Britain, and that Palma was the busiest low cost airport in Spain last month with a slight year-on-year rise in passengers led again by the British holiday market.

And yesterday, the Minister for Tourism and Commerce in Madrid reported that tourism spending in the Balearics last month rose by 12.5 percent - the sharpest increase in Spain and finally reversing the downward trend which began in April of last year.

Last month, tourists spent 1'800 million euros in the Balearics and, according to the Ministry report, it is the British who are spending the most.
With the Balearics being the number one destination for the British this Bank Holiday weekend, the news was welcomed by the local Minister for Tourism, Joana Barcelo.

She said that the increase was the highest since 2004 and that she was “delighted” by the news.
Barcelo said that the rise is very important considering it is the first positive set of tourism spending data for a year-and-a-half.
With the Balearics having out stripped the rest of the country where the national average increase in tourism spending last month was just 3.7 percent, Barcelo praised the local tourist industry for not giving in to the recession. “The data shows the huge potential we continue to have as a major destination despite the fierce competition and other negative factors,” the Minister said.

Barcelo explained that tourism spending rose last month in all of the islands.
Breaking the figures down, she said that in Majorca, tourists spent an average of 130.6 euros per day last month, in Minorca, 110 euros and Ibiza and Formentera, an average of 146 euros.

SECOND HALF IMPROVEMENT
However, the total amount of money spent by tourists in the Balearics during the first six months of this year is 4.3 percent down on last year but, the tourism industry is quietly confident that July may have been a watershed for the sector and that the situation will significantly improve in the second half.

Over all, the biggest spenders have been the British followed by the Germans, the French and the Scandinavians.
What is also interesting is that the average expenditure by tourists in the Balearics last month was nearly 40 percent higher than the national average.

And, the report also reveals further evidence of the increase in foreign visitors last month stating that hotel bookings rose by just under 11 percent while the number of people opting for alternative accommodation, in particular holiday home owners, fell by six percent.

The Balearic tourist industry is now hoping for a good end to the peak of the summer season and the government hopes that, on the back of the recent positive data, the industry will be encouraged to prolong the season.

Last week, rumours were beginning to circulate within the industry that some hoteliers were thinking of closing even earlier than usual because of the poor start to the season.

However, with a late surge in demand for Balearic holidays and a winter programme planned, the local authorities hope the hoteliers will think again.

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